“To finish first you must first finish.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re racing cars, bikes or lawnmowers; to finish first, you must first finish. These are famous racing words for every team, driver and their fans in motorsports. These words also matter in leadership, faith and life.

I’ve discovered there are three phases to finishing, and finishing first. They are:

1) Preparation. 2) Execution. 3) Processing. Below is a series of questions to ask in each phase. I don’t proclaim these to be the only questions to ask, but I’ve found them useful in fielding a racecar, and also useful in leading The Rock Church.

Find Your Voice; It’s Important!

voice recognition

Have you ever paid attention to the voices around you? I don’t mean the ones in your head, but the sound of those closest to you? Tone of voice is incredible. Like a symphonic harmony, voice can sooth, and like a clanging symbol, voice can rattle. Have you ever considered the effect of your voice?

I think it’s paramount to discover your voice. Will your tone be one of peace or war, resonance or dissonance, helpful or hurtful? It’s becoming clear, in the coming decades, more and more voices will have access to our thinking than ever before.

While people are striving for your attention on social media, through their blog or in the boardroom, I’d encourage you to begin to develop your own voice. To do so will require some consideration on your part. It begins by defining…

Are You Growing?

Without a doubt the most encouraging and motivating factor in advancing your life is the tangible evidence and feeling that you are growing.  Advancement and growth are the most rewarding parts of life.  In fact, God made you and first commanded you to be fruitful and multiply.  Sure, He was talking about babies, but he was also talking about pro-creating!  What has God called you to create? A company? A product?  Are you to create a new innovation? How about a new ministry?  How about reshaping a current one?  Are you pro-creation?

My daughter Seven is growing fast.  I can’t stop her, she keeps getting bigger and bigger, talking more and more. Her vocabulary is continuing to develop. Recently we started her in swim lessons; she started school a couple days a week.  She even puts on her backpack and yells, “School time!”

I want to challenge you with this question, What time is it in your life?

Is it time for you to grow up?  Is it time for you to advance your passion to do something for Jesus Christ?  Are there areas of your life you need to mature in, gain a new vocabulary?  So many times we can live life the same year in and year out; one obvious area, our relationships with people remain the same, even worse, our relationship with Jesus and others remains unchanged.

As a pastor I often feel like my job is to help people grow by growing their relationship with Jesus.  Yet, I’ve discovered growth is not a one way street.  I can’t make anyone grow.  It takes initiative. It requires a burning desire on the part of the one who wants to grow.  It also takes a plan.  I am going to lay out a plan for different types of people.  Skip down, if you want to grow, and read the section that most applies to you.  Hopefully it will help you take the initiative to grow into who you desire to be.

Just Connecting to The Rock Church, may be a believer, may not be.

First off, welcome.  Welcome to one of the greatest groups of people on the planet, the local church.  TRC people absolutely love you.  Here is what I think you need to do to move your journey forward.  First, to get what you want you have to re-prioritize your life.  You must decide to make Sunday church a part of your schedule.  You must add/delete some people from your life.  Add some people at TRC to your contact list, Facebook, Twitter and engage them.  Delete some people who you know will drag you backward.  Also, You must make time to read your bible. Another practical idea, in times of confusion or doubt you must remember you are the one, not God, who is confused.  Never give up!  Find a place in your church to share your story, share your life and serve. There is no greater place to advance your story than the local church.

The Rock Church is your church.

Are you serving anywhere?  Are you giving regularly?  Are you inviting people to experience God?  To grow further you will need to step up your game a bit.  Most of us are super busy already.  Work and family dominate our calendar, so sometimes your spiritual journey can take a back seat to other important tasks. If you feel this way, that’s perfect, because here is where you can advance.  When you read Genesis there was not a distinction between family, work and worship!  God expected all three to coexist in unison.  I believe you can’t have a great family life without a great church life.  Nor can you have a great work life without a great family life.  Nor can you have a great work life without a great church life.  If one is missing none are complete.  God designed us to master all three areas.  Too many times I see people sacrifice one of the three areas in the name of protecting another.  It cannot be done while advancing at the same time.  Here is my recommendation.  Learn to master the season you are in.  If it’s busy then master it.  If it’s calm then master that too.

You feel under-utilized in the Kingdom.

I’ve felt this way before, so I know the frustration.  First off, are you tithing?  Are you helping someone else’s dream?  Do you serve anyone who can’t pay you back?  I’ve learned, what I make happen for others God will make happen for me.  Is your Kingdom motivation obvious?  If not, then do those few things beginning today.  If yes, then it’s time for you to tell your leaders you are ready to be equipped at a higher level!  It’s time to come out from behind the safe zone and really throw yourself into leading other people.  There is a great sense of purpose and destiny when you throw yourself into the success of people.  Identify who can unlock your potential.  Then sit with them and ask them to help you unleash the dream in your heart!  But be ready, if you ask a high-caliber person to help you, get ready to work for it.  There are no shortcuts to experiencing the thrill of being fulfilled in the Kingdom!

You feel like the best of times are behind you.

This is usually due to some change or loss you’ve experienced.  I too have experienced these feelings and they can be crippling.  Do not allow yourself to stay in this state too long.  It’s time to really voice your heart in these matters, and get the prayer and support you need to advance from this season.  Too long here can be debilitating.  Do not let that happen.  Tell someone who can encourage, pray and motivate you to pick it up and get after it. You’ve done some great things, but I believe the best is yet to come from you!  I especially would want someone who’s hit home-runs for their church in the past, but is on the side-lines now to know it’s not over.  Time to lace up the cleats and get back in the game.

You feel like you are gaining momentum and are ready to fly!

I especially want to know.  Send me some correspondence about your passion and excitement.  Hopefully I can direct you to a “dream-releaser” on our team who can help you set the people of The Rock Church and our cities on fire for God!  Also, we are working on some exciting things as the fall starts. We want you to be a part of it.  Step forward and share your heart! We feel like The Rock Church is getting ready for the greatest season of our lives!

Code of Conduct

Common Codes of Conduct are found in nearly every aspect of life.  It seems humanity is not only obsessed with codes of conduct by our constant need for a code–protocol, rules to follow, things you do and don’t do—it is reliant on them.

Remember the riveting seen in A Few Good Men when Col. Jessup, Jack Nicholson, was pressed by Lt. Daniel Kaffee, Tom Cruise, about the code red.  It was an intense scene no doubt, and I venture to guess military codes exist, spoken and unspoken.  I also have personally observed conduct codes in the locker-room, surrounding athletes; on the race track, with drivers; in the board room, with executives; and on the assembly lines of our great factories.  Not all codes are written, but those that matter are known.

There is a code of conduct when it comes to treating people the way they should be treated.  I’ve observed this on a number of occasions, and when the code is driven by the gospel of Jesus Christ there is great fruit.  The code I am referring to is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Here’s how this code of conduct plays out in real time. People who are active in their Christian faith recognize God treated them in a way they didn’t deserve to be treated by sending His son and redeeming their life through the work of Jesus.  In other words, God made a way to have relationship with Him when we didn’t deserve that relationship.

I’d submit the same is expected of you and I when it comes to relating all people regardless of race, political persuasion, religion or personal preferences.  If we treat people the way they deserve to be treated then we can get away with slander, gossip, judgment, ridicule, cliques and the rest of the nasty church people stuff.  But if we truly adopt the code to love our neighbor then we will treat all people the way they should be treated, regardless if they deserve it or not.

It’s all rooted in Genesis 12:1-3, Col 3:10-11; and Galatians 3:27-29.  If you’ve got the tenacity to read those passages you’ll see you are blessed!  Blessing is a lot more than the American dream because blessing involves the whole being. Blessing is not circumstantial, it’s positional.  If you get the fact that your blessed because of your position in Christ and not your life circumstances, then the state of your affairs won’t be a motivator or deterrent of how you treat others; instead, what will matter is you don’t get off the wall of faith–stay in position!!!

What is the code of conduct to fulfill this ever important commandment, love your neighbor?  I am convinced the code of conduct is to live life, “Blessed to Be a Blessing.”

This is a core value in my life, and the life of The Rock Church.  There is no other way to live!


Photo By Kristian Gorman

Every Sunday.  Once every 7 days.  Like clock work.  Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Over ten years ago God demanded I step onto the platform of my local church and carry the gospel message to my generation.  Although, I wasn’t new to carrying the gospel having been a Youth Pastor and missionary the previous 6 1/2 years, I was no longer just a fill-in for the Senior Pastors.

I was pretty nervous, not about speaking, but about having to speak for so long.  My experiences had been 15-20 minute messages to students and casting the “salvation net” on the mission field in 5 minutes or less.  Having to come up with content to fill the time and be impacting made me anxious.  I’d draft out an outline in advance complete with scriptures, stories and illustrations.  Sometimes they’d be a dozen pages thick.  My thought was always, “Better to have more content than time!’

Over the years I’ve come to love speaking.  Here’s a few reasons why:

Because I am a Christ follower…

  1. I’m compelled. Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”  It is just not enough for me to live as a Christ follower and not be a communicator of the gospel.
  2. I’m called. Jeremiah 1:5, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.  Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”  To this day I find it incredibly ironic I preach the gospel.  When God has picked you, there is no other alternative.
  3. I’m equipped. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  I have a Bible, I can learn and I am committed.

Because I am a Pastor…

  1. I simply love seeing the courage that comes across a persons face as they grab the understanding of God’s amazing life for them.  It is incredible.
  2. I know there are not too many messages promoting eternity, hope and goodness all in the same setting.
  3. I’m addicted to life change and discipleship.

Most of all, I love what I do Sunday mornings because I get to participate in the great work of Jesus Christ.  Believe me, the sum of all the parts is a lot greater than the part I play!

I’d encourage Christ followers to find what they love about Sunday morning.  Tap into the love of it.  If you lead kids, then love it; worship, then love it; greet people, love it; produce the service, then love it; serve people, then love it.  Start seeing the cause of Christ as the reason for your existence, not just something you do on Sunday.  It’ll birth a love within.